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FEATURES - AN INSPECTOR CALLS

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Best Value Inspection Service...
Best Value Inspection Service

Southampton City Council

Southampton City Council's housing repairs and maintenance service is good and has promising prospects for improvement, according to the Best Value Inspection Service.

The service received two stars because inspectors said it is easily accessed by tenants through area housing offices and by telephone through the call centre for housing repairs.

There are high levels of tenant satisfaction and heath and safety is a priority.

However, weaknesses included tenants having limited opportunities to be involved in determining policies and standards.

Jacqueline Canham, lead housing inspector, said: 'There has been a significant improvement in performance in a number of important areas and there are clear plans to tackle weaknesses.

'The council has a performance management system in place, but it needs to ensure it is fully used at all levels.'

Liverpool City Council

Liverpool City Council's indoor leisure service is fair, but has poor prospects for improvement, according to a report by the Best Value Inspection Service.

Inspectors gave the service one star. A broad range of leisure options is available. However, many facilities are in poor condition, the aims of the service are too narrowly focused on financial targets and not enough attention is paid to customer needs.

Helen Platts, commissioning inspector, northern region, said: 'The council has made some difficult decisions in modernising services, and is committed to the indoor leisure services. However, the improvement plan is weak and does not address key issues. Plans for the next five years are unclear and some difficult decisions have not been taken.'

Recommendations included completing a new sports and recreation strategy by December which takes into account the views of customers and under-represented groups.

North Tyneside MBC

North Tyneside MBC's sport and leisure service has been award one star by the Best Value Inspection Service.

Inspectors said the service was fair with uncertain prospects for improvement. Although customer satisfaction levels were high and staff were friendly and helpful, there were many shortcomings, including some facilities which were unwelcoming and in poor condition. There was little provision for families and disabled customers.

Mike Hannon, commissioning inspector, northern region, said: 'The council needs to ensure the services it provides are valued by local people, contribute to corporate objectives and are cost effective. At the same time, they should not duplicate what is being provided by others.'

He added: 'This is particularly pertinent given the council's financial situation. The council needs to look at this both in the short and longer term, and it is for this reason that we are recommending the development of a sports strategy within the next 12 months.'

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